Monday, December 11, 2006

79)Uncovering more marvels of creation.

".....Indeed, one strength of Islam has always lain in its belief that creation is not static but continuous, that through scientific and other endeavours, God has opened and continues to open new windows for us to see the marvels of His creation....."
Aga Khan 4, Aga Khan University, 1983

They may be ugly, but they're really deep
Scientists discover many new species in the inky water under Antarctica

From Monday's Globe and Mail

In the dark ocean beneath the Antarctic ice, researchers have found scores of species they've never seen before, including strange jellyfish and other gelatinous organisms that thrive without light.

It is too early to say exactly how many new species were discovered in the Antarctic, many in the Weddell Sea, where ice crushed the ship of Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton in 1915.
The scientists saw more strange creatures than familiar ones, says Ron O'Dor, an expert in octopuses and squid from Halifax's Dalhousie University and the chief scientist in charge of producing the first marine life census of the planet by 2010.

Experts who weren't on the expedition may be able to identify some of the mysterious organisms spotted beneath 700 metres of ice, more than 200 kilometres from the open ocean. But most will probably turn out to be species new to science.

Dr. O'Dor was on a cruise to the Arctic last year that made a number of finds, including a pink octopus that had never been seen that far north. But the Antarctic waters were darker, he said in a recent telephone interview from Britain where he was attending a conference. The thick ice blocks the sun, so no light gets through.

This is the sixth year of the marine census, an ambitious project that involves 2,000 researchers from 80 countries trying to get a handle on what is living in the world's oceans.
The researchers have conducted expeditions to previously unexplored deep-sea vents, underwater mountains, coral reefs, the Arctic and the Antarctic.

They have used satellites to track sharks, squid, sea lions, albatrosses and other tagged animals travelling thousands of kilometres.

Among the highlights from the discoveries made this year:

A school of fish the size of Manhattan off the New Jersey coast. About 20 million herring were travelling together.

A shrimp believed extinct for 50 million years ago was found on an underwater peak in the Coral Sea near Australia. It is has been nicknamed Jurassic Shrimp. It is the same colour as modern shrimp, but looks bulkier.

Sooty shearwaters average 350 kilometres a day in their search for food. A satellite tracked the movements of the seabirds as they made a giant figure eight over the Pacific Ocean, from New Zealand to Japan, Alaska, California and back. The journey took 200 days, and in some cases, a breeding pair made the trip together.

A new species of rock lobster in Madagascar that may be the largest in the world. Its body spans half a metre.

A new species of furry crab near Easter Island, nicknamed the Yeti Crab.

A giant single-cell organism in the Nazare Canyon off Portugal. Protozoans can usually be seen swimming in a drop of water under a microscope. This one, found 4,300 metres beneath the surface, was a centimetre in diameter.

The deep ocean is free of sharks, which live at 1,500 metres or above.

Scientists working on the marine census also learned more about zooplankton, the tiny drifters that are at the mercy of the ocean's currents. They identified 500 species, including a transparent jellyfish they didn't know they had captured until they held its gooey body in their hands. These "sea bugs," as they are sometimes called, are essential to life as we know it, and include flying snails, swimming worms and shrimp-like creatures that paddle with oar-like feet. They are food for bigger fish and marine animals and also help moderate the climate by transporting carbon to the bottom of the sea.

Another team found 10 to 100 times more species of bacteria than they expected to, including rare microbes that may be relics from the early days of the planet.

Some of the census work is done away from the sea. Analysts, for instance, have concluded that only 2 per cent of the world's coral reefs are protected.

Historians reconstructed the changing abundance of marine life in 12 estuaries and coastal areas around the world. They used archives from Roman times in the Adriatic Sea, the medieval period in Northern Europe and colonial times in North America and Europe. They found that 90 per cent of important species have been depleted.


Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation:Aga Khan 4.
The God of the Quran is the One whose Ayats(Signs) are the Universe in which we live, move and have our being:Aga Khan 3